Thank you to everyone who has been in touch to ask me to oppose the Government’s plans to remove the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit (UC).
As Shadow Minister for Disabled People, I am part of the Shadow Work and Pensions team and we have been pressing the Government on this for many months now. We were due to have an Opposition Day Debate on this last week, but it was postponed after the Government’s announcement on increasing National Insurance contributions to fund social care. We are now expecting the debate to take place this Wednesday (15th September).
As I am sure you will know, in the Government’s 2021 Budget, the Chancellor announced that UC will be reduced by £20 a week from the end of September. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions recently confirmed that this remains the Government’s intention.
I completely agree that UC should not be reduced at this time. The proposed cut will cost six million families an estimated £1,000 a year and support for those out of work will be left at its lowest level in decades. I support maintaining UC at its current levels until it can be replaced with a new social security system which provides a proper social security safety net and has dignity and respect at its heart.
In the meantime, my Labour colleagues and I want to see urgent reforms to UC and the current social security system. These include an end to the five-week wait for a first UC payment and for UC advances to be converted into grants instead of loans. In addition, I believe the UC savings limit, the benefit cap and the two-child limit for UC and Tax Credits should be abolished.
More widely, I have spent much of my time as Shadow Minister for Disabled People lobbying the Government to uprate all six legacy benefits by £20 a week in line with UC.
Taking all of these steps would provide immediate support to those affected by coronavirus, including many people who have kept our country running during the pandemic.